The film team behind Peter Rabbit, starring Rose Byrne, has apologized for showing allergies in a light and joking way.

PETER RABBIT APOLOGIZES FOR DEPICTION OF ALLERGIES

Peter Rabbit was released last weekend and depicts the character of Mr. McGregor as being allergic to blackberries. In a scene, the rabbits fling the fruit at him and he is forced to respond by using an EpiPen. The film has received backlash for this scene, with many calling it an insensitive depiction of allergies, as well as an inappropriate even if unintentional endorsement of allergy bullying.

“For them to mock something so serious is irresponsible and dangerous,” Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at NYU, told CNN. “This is very dangerous and anxiety-provoking, as deaths occur when food allergies are not taken seriously.”

Charity group Kids with Food Allergies posted a warning about the specific scene on its Facebook page, which has prompted the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit. The statement states that making light of the medical condition “encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reaction seriously.”

In addition, the president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Kenneth Mendez, wrote an open letter to the studio, Sony Pictures, and asked for a meeting so that he could educate the company on the realities of food allergies. He said Sony should “examine your portrayal of bullying in your films geared toward a young audience.”

Sony Pictures released a joint statement with the filmmakers on Sunday to say that “food allergies are a serious issue” and that the film “should not have made light” of a character being allergic to certain foods, “even in a cartoonish, slapstick way.” They add that they “sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue,” and that they “truly apologize.”